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About jonbirch

animator, illustrator, character designer, graphic designer. music producer/recording musician. co-owner of PROOST. proost.co.uk
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40 Responses to 528

  1. miriworm says:

    Perhaps thier Galatians (read the letter)!

  2. Will says:

    saucy!

  3. JF says:

    Does the fact that various animals have been demonstrated to display homosexual behaviour mean that when God created nature and saw that it was good, homosexuality was part of that good creation? That would be phenomenal as it then couldn’t be a sin so there’d be no more pious “loving the sinner” and no reason for the church to be split. Either that or it IS a sin in which case we need to explain why the Fall affected the animal kingdom as this is not my understanding of Genesis. But then Jesus was the good shepherd so maybe he died for the ovine sinners too. Forgive my flippancy but there’s some quite fundamental questions here!

  4. Mark says:

    “we need to explain why the Fall affected the animal kingdom as this is not my understanding of Genesis”

    I think though that the fall did affect animals. It at least affected the serpent. And presumably there were no deadly snakes, scorpions, spiders, jelly-fish pre-fall. And in the new creation, the lion will lie down with the lamb. Presumably that’s how creation is meant to operate, and at the fall starting not operating like that. Animals do all sorts of things that aren’t presumably as they were designed. Would God design so many insect females to kill their mate after they are fertilised? I’d like to think that was not God’s original plan for populating the earth with animals.

    “For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.
    We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.” (Romans 8:20-22)

  5. becky says:

    Well if they said you can leave your hat on in “The Full Monty,” I see no reason why they can’t leave the mitre on.

  6. jonbirch says:

    jf… hadn’t noticed any flippancy. just reasonable questions.

    mark… it’s interesting and biblically fairly solid what you say and i go along with it to a point. but as you say, these are just presumptions. a deadly snake is only a deadly snake if it threatens you. and what about the shark or the crocodile, which seem to be designed at their core to do what they do? what about the whole food chain? it all seems very well designed and works superbly well.
    more than anything else, the story in genesis talks of our responsibility and place in it all. that is the key lesson… why we were made.
    but, as we know… genesis doesn’t deal with dinosaurs, which were killing for food long before mankind was on the planet and were very well designed for the purpose. the lessons of genesis are about the nature of the world in which we live and for which we are supposed to take care of.
    as you are probably all aware, i do not understand homosexuality to be a sin. the mistreatment of people however, i do. using others for ones gratification, sexual or otherwise i do. the bible, christ specifically, seems emphatic about that.

  7. henry says:

    love the smiles on their faces. this reminds me of the first time i started to wonder about homosexuality and question what my church was saying about it. (and i saw it on the telly, which is strange, since i haven’t owned a telly for 10 years).

  8. soniamain says:

    Been having interesting conversation with my children about homosexuality this week! ( as you do in the holidays!!) they are 9 & 11, this is not a new concept to them, they know a few gay couples. Their question is why, if K & F love each other do some people think it is a sin and wrong?, why are people cruel and unkind about it?- good questions I think.

  9. Caz says:

    This is totally going against what I think about homosexuality in humans, but I do think that the fall affected nature too.

    It made me think of this quote from David Attenborough. When asked whether his observation of the natural world has given him faith in a creator, he generally responds with some version of this story:

    “My response is that when Creationists talk about God creating every individual species as a separate act, they always instance hummingbirds, or orchids, sunflowers and beautiful things. But I tend to think instead of a parasitic worm that is boring through the eye of a boy sitting on the bank of a river in West Africa, [a worm] that’s going to make him blind. And [I ask them], ‘Are you telling me that the God you believe in, who you also say is an all-merciful God, who cares for each one of us individually, are you saying that God created this worm that can live in no other way than in an innocent child’s eyeball? Because that doesn’t seem to me to coincide with a God who’s full of mercy'”.

    On the other hand – I do not believe that animals are capable of sinning…. so what does that say about it?

  10. subo says:

    have been reflecting on the symbolism of the lamb, following mulling over T. Wrights article “The Cross and the Caricatures” (a response to Robert Jenson, Jeffrey John, and a new volume entitled Pierced for Our Transgressions
    Eastertide, 2007) that i downloaded from http://www.fulcrum-anglican.org.uk/news/2007/20070423wright.cfm?doc=205. I love the outrage and complexity in T.W.’s writing, and found the way he opens out a multilayered understanding of atonement almost physically engaging.

    the thing i’ve been musing on about the lamb, is they way it exposes our human twist of enjoying mocking the weak, we pick on little fluffy lambs. I guess listening to Tim’s experiences around the orphanages and refugee camps in Palestine may be something to do with it.

  11. Steve Lancaster says:

    Aah… “Certain primates” – that’s the root of the problem, isn’t it? Perhaps we need a few more genuinely uncertain ones?

  12. drewman says:

    That would be back to Jons nasty green monster in the blockbuster…

    CERTAINTY – destroyer of faith.

    Hopefully leaving soon from a pew near you.

  13. doctor ruth says:

    I’m not convinced we can use animal behaviour to make moral judgements about human behaviour. Male lions kill their own male offspring. Many primates, large cats and other animals fight and kill over mates or territory or even sometimes for no apparent reason at all. Magpies steal other bird’s eggs. Large animals hunt by preying on the weakest animals. My cats sometimes wee on letters posted through my door. Most of these behaviours are seen as adaptive in the animal kingdom.
    Are these things ok in humans?

  14. janetp says:

    Not weeing on your post, I think! ;)

    But the thing that struck me was that all the other things have been done by human beings down the ages and still go on. I’m not saying that’s a good thing, just that it IS.

    Is it not the very fact that we make these moral judgements about what is ‘good’ and ‘bad’ what makes us ‘human’, as distinct from ‘animal’?

    Or have I missed the point, Dr Ruth? I’m not very awake today :)

  15. jonbirch says:

    i’m merely saying… i bet we have gay bishops aplenty and what’s the big deal?

    btw doctor ruth. i promise i will never wee on your post. :-)

    ‘genuinely uncertain’ primates would be a fine thing steve.

  16. janetp says:

    BTW, another great cartoon Jon. :)

  17. jonbirch says:

    thanks janetp. :-)

  18. mjn says:

    The fall is difficult to understand at the best of times and even more so when you take a more ‘evolutionary process’ understanding of creation rather than a ‘created’ one. Mark suggests that the fall affected the snake, but, is that pre or post fall? In the Genesis creation myths is there a point when the fall happens –the taking, the eating, the sharing of the apple? Is the fall instead actually more of a process? Perhaps moving away from the topic as presented in the cartoon but I must admit that I have never really found the concept of the fall helpful in relation to very much?

  19. Ros says:

    Well I’d heard about gay penguins! :D

    As everyone else has already said, doesn’t this mean that there is nothing bad about homosexuality because that is the way God created people (and animals)?

  20. Robb says:

    I think that “the fall” is a useful metaphorical way of saying that we don’t live up to what we were created for. As a point singularity, it is unhelpful. Debating pre/post fall is a waste of time.

  21. Robb says:

    “well it is a question. It isn’t the right question… but it is a question”.

    – Wise old testament lecturer.

  22. JF says:

    Mark (4): I cannot share your belief that all animals were fluffy pre-Fall (I agree with Robb (24) btw! And the lion lying down with the lamb is surely symbolic of heaven being a place where people who were once at loggerheads can live peaceably with one another, rather than being a statement about specific species. Can you really read the Bible so literally… wow!

    Dr Ruth (17): Lion nature in lions, magpie nature in magpies and human nature in humans. I believe that homosexuality and other minority ‘behaviours’ are part of our human nature. And man in the image of God, too!

    Robb (25): sounds like someone who had an answer. Not the right answer, but an answer.

    Loved these last couple of cartoons, visually and thematically, Jon. But isn’t it quiet on here!

  23. jonbirch says:

    ‘But isn’t it quiet on here!’
    that’s the summer holidays for you jf… one long weekend! numbers gone down by an average of 400 a day since schools broke up. i don’t take it personally. :-)

    robb 24. agreed.

  24. zefi says:

    SOnia<Their question is why, if K & F love each other do some people think it is a sin and wrong?, why are people cruel and unkind about it?- good questions I think.>

    If two underaged kids love each other and decide to have sex, why do many people think that it’s wrong? Why are adults so cruel and unkind about it…? Who has the right to say that they’re not ready or mature enough?

    Jon<mark… it’s interesting and biblically fairly solid what you say and i go along with it to a point. but as you say, these are just presumptions. a deadly snake is only a deadly snake if it threatens you. and what about the shark or the crocodile, which seem to be designed at their core to do what they do? what about the whole food chain? it all seems very well designed and works superbly well.>

    Got such thing as micro-evolution ma……

    JF<Can you really read the Bible so literally… wow!>

    He just interpreted one part literally and your statement seems to imply that he read the WHOLE bible literally. He looks like an idiot now.

    He decided to read the portion literally perhaps because that would agree to his presumptions. But the same can be said if you suggest to read that part metaphorically.

    I hate dilemmas.

  25. JF says:

    Zefi – you make a good point and there was no intent to make anyone look like ‘an idiot’. My apologies if that’s what you think. I am sincerely interested as to how one can justify taking some parts of the bible literally and not other parts? How do we decide what is literal and what isn’t? Or is it OK to pick cherries if that chimes with our own belief? Although I’ve just made that sound trivial, it actually comes close to my own ‘take’ on the bible.

  26. jonbirch says:

    there are a number of different types of writing within the bible. this is as i understand it…
    narrative, poetic, wisdom, historical, parable, letter, prophetic.
    it’s important to understand the difference. ie. it is important to recognise the creation story as that, a story and not to confuse it with historical.
    these are hebraic writing traditions and your average hebrew would probably not confuse them.

    any experts out there who’d like to fill in the large gaps in my knowledge? :-)

  27. JF says:

    It would really helped if they’d thought to put it in sections.

  28. Mark says:

    I don’t think I would read that part of the bible literarily in the sense of all creation, exactly 6 24 hour days. But whether you do or not, the bible seems to be clear, at some point man is in perfect communion with God and at some point later, after man sins, he is subject to death (the wages of sin is death) and all creation is subject to futility and groaning.

    I think, what I am then arguing for, is that all creation is no longer perfect as it should be (as Caz said David Attenborough said), but actually all tainted and cursed by the fall, and therefore for us to say “animals do it, therefore it can’t be bad” is not great logic. That’s not an argument for or against homosexuality (although to be honest and nail my colours to the mast, I do think homosexual practice is rebelling against God.), just saying that you can’t argue for or against it from animal behaviour.

  29. Linus says:

    hmmm, some interesting stuff.

    Robb, mjn: if the fall is metaphorical, how does God weasel out of the blame for setting up a universe that, whilst inherently good, is also inherently broken? and then subjecting feeling and in some cases sentient beings to existence in said universe. “It can’t be chess, it must be very complex solitaire” [Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, read it!] God’s a bastard. Discuss.

    JF, better to have the right questions than the wrong answers, definitely. Maybe the first “right” question(!) is “what are the right questions?”

    janetp i have to respectfully disagree – i think what makes us human is that we are carriers of God’s image* (admittedly tarnished). The ability to make moral judgements is not shared by all individuals we consider human, and the Genesis story suggests it was not initially present in Adam and Eve when God created them (so regardless of how literally you take this passage, the text implies ability-to-make-moral-judgements is not central to human-ness).

    *whatever that means

    Mark, DrRuth, JF: clearly neither human nature nor animal behaviour provide perfect moral standards – just because behaviour exists doesn’t automatically mean we should conclude it is wise or beneficial to imitate it. We need to look elsewhere to calibrate our moral compass, any ideas?

    Zefi: please explain how you get from gentle plant eater to crocodile using only micro-evolution.

    JF: they did put it in sections, its just we’re not good at noticing which section is which anymore, or where each section starts and finishes, or how they apply to our culture and context.

  30. henry says:

    mark, i think this cartoon deals with how natural homosexuality is, by pointing out how common homosexuality is in the animal kingdom – which does not say that it’s right or wrong, but highlights the “appeal to nature” fallacy (for me at least). this is funny, because the appeal to nature fallacy can be applied to both sides of the argument, also to people who say that homosexuality is wrong because “god didn’t design us for it” (i.e. not natural). i’ve heard this a lot of times.

    for more info see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homosexuality_in_animals and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Appeal_to_nature

  31. henry says:

    linus: we obviously look to the bible to calibrate our moral compass, but this issue is a bit disputed. maybe we shouldn’t worry that much about it (/me points to the red herring cartoon)…

  32. zefi says:

    Linus:
    Robb, mjn: if the fall is metaphorical, how does God weasel out of the blame for setting up a universe that, whilst inherently good, is also inherently broken? and then subjecting feeling and in some cases sentient beings to existence in said universe. “It can’t be chess, it must be very complex solitaire” [Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, read it!] God’s a bastard. Discuss.

    Who decide what is good? What is this ‘good’ anyway? Or rather, what do YOU define as good?

    Zefi: please explain how you get from gentle plant eater to crocodile using only micro-evolution.

    You want me to explain using many, many micro-evolutions, or just one phase?

  33. Linus says:

    First Question:

    In the context of my comment, i was referring to the idea that observation of the universe and human experience implies that life is meant to be harmonious, beautiful, meaningful, totally satisfying and wonderfully fulfilling to all who experience it. This i summarised using the phrase “inherently good”

    I hope that clarifies things… Can you in turn clarify what your questions are getting at?

    Second Question:

    Not fussed – either would be fine.

  34. zefi says:

    Linus:
    I hope that clarifies things… Can you in turn clarify what your questions are getting at?

    Was just trying to understand what you meant. Somehow, what you wrote gives the vibe that “life is only good if they give me what I want.”

    Not fussed – either would be fine.

    Don’t be lazy. Read it up yourself!

  35. Robb says:

    I’ll have a go in the morning, I/we (ie me an dr ruth) is on holiday…. erm, less wine will help!!

    See you @ greenbelt!

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